Abortion Organizations In the South Need Your Support More Than Ever

As a young person growing up in rural Georgia, I mostly heard about abortion in coded language, typically through gossip. When folks said, “well you know she went to Atlanta or Savannah,” they were insinuating that someone had gone to have an abortion in one of the closest cities with clinics. 

As I grew up, I continued this ‘mum’s the word’ attitude towards the word abortion, even though I held staunchly pro-abortion beliefs. While I spoke extensively of reproductive justice in my communities, it was rare to hear me talk about abortion access explicitly. Over a year ago when I was offered the opportunity to apply for the board of an abortion fund, I jumped at the chance  to confront my internalized stigma.

Abortion access in the South is severely limited. Every single state in the Southeast has mandatory waiting periods, which can add additional 24 to 72 hours to the time it takes to have a procedure done. Targeted regulations of abortion providers (also known as TRAP laws) have resulted in clinic closures across the South, which force people seeking abortions to travel for hours and across state borders just to access abortion care. Unfortunately, the presence of harmful crisis pregnancy centers have expanded to fill this gap, and now significantly outnumber abortion clinics – for example in Mississippi, where there there are 38 crisis pregnancy centers and one abortion clinic. Across the South, most folks have little to no access to unbiased information or long term reproductive care.

As we celebrate the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade under president-elect Trump, we have to push our actions further. It is imperative that we financially support community-based clinics and abortion funds, especially those that are located in the South. Independent abortion clinics perform 60 to 80 percent of abortions in the U.S., according to Guttmacher. With the increased wave of anti-abortion legislation, it is these providers who are bearing the brunt of decreased abortion access, particularly across the South. And with the lack of buffer zones – legally protected sidewalks and areas around abortion clinics from protestors – it is also critical to support grassroots organizations with clinic escort programs, that are literally putting their bodies between emboldened anti-choice advocates and people seeking abortion care.

At the beginning of the year, House Speaker Ryan revealed that congressional Republicans are planning to defund Planned Parenthood federally, which would cut the $553.7 million the organization receives annually in government health service grants and reimbursements, according to their 2014-15 annual report. This would have a devastatingly impact on low income people and folks of color.  If conservatives are successful, independent reproductive care and abortion clinics will shoulder even more weight to fill the gaps, but without the hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funding.

As we navigate the next four years under the administration of someone who spread abortion misinformation on a national stage, we have to fight bolder and harder to ensure that we all, especially those most impacted, have access to the reproductive care that we need and want.

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Quita Tinsley is a fat, Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and overall is working to build sustainable change in the South. She holds a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Sociology from Georgia State University, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from her alma mater. She is a member on the board of directors of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, and is a former content creator for the The Body Is Not An Apology. As a femme, feminist, and queer Black woman, it is through her lived experiences and complex identities that Quita has come to believe in the power of storytelling and the validation of lived experiences.

Quita Tinsley is a fat, Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and overall is working to build sustainable change in the South.

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